Thursday 22 August 2013

...and July 1st...

...and June 1st...

From the June page of 'Downham Market 2013 Calendar - 

'Reeds Homestore - for young and old alike represents the very best in department store shopping. Combining a fabulous selection of goods with traditional service and personal attention, it has long occupied a memorable place in the heart and history of Downham Market. With the guidance of it’s new management Reeds is all set to become an imaginative and 
caring retailer for the 21st century!'

Part of 'Nelson House' - the building occupied by Reeds, is reputed to have been a school attended by a young Lord Admiral Nelson.

Monday 29 April 2013

...of divas and delis...

When my niece Emilie asked me to produce a birthday drawing of her friend as a super hero, of course - I said yes. 
No problem. 
Not that easy after all. 
A lottle bit rusty in fact...

Happy Birthday Katie!... aka KateWoman - ouch!

When Estelle saw my first faltering sketches she stepped in and said - 
'What is she doing - getting dressed, undressed?' 
I like the energy of the first drawing, but she's out of proportion, there are anatomical errors, and what is she doing...? 
Me I don't mind the ambiguity, but anyway... 
...let's get it right!

Katie - my first superhero drawing
in ages, and it shows...

...and with a little bit of help from artist
extraordinaire - Jaimie Hernandez...

Like anything - if you don't practice regularly and at least keep up with it - you can't expect to just pick up where you left off. 
Especially if where you left off is almost two years ago! 
But with a lot help (translate - art direction!) from my better half I got there in the end. 
Now if I was drawing a problem! 

...first layout 'Freddies Deli' - High St. Downham Market...

I'm working on the follow up to the Downham Market 2013 Calendar with the Downham Market and King's Lynn 2014 Calendar, and while I have a few images ready to go, I thought I'd better get on with the new work - which is why I'm sitting in the shade outside Freddies Deli at the Castle Hotel end of Downham Market's High St.
It's pretty nippy out here in the shade, but in the first half hour I sketch in the general placement of the building and preliminary details. It's beginning to make sense. 
While I'm sketching away, I'm asked by passersby if I would take on a commission to draw their house on Railway Rd - naturally I'm flattered and say yes, though I'm informed that there is no space opposite to set up an easel so photo ref it is. 
I continue with the 'Freddies' drawing and feel that after an hour and a half I've got as much as I need to continue with the drawing in the studio. 
Only thing is there is a rather tall chimney pot on the left hand chimney, which is actually going off the top of the page - I'd prefer that it didn't so I'll have to transfer the entire drawing via lightbox to another piece of watercolour paper and reposition the drawing two cm lower or so. 
What did I say earlier...?

Now if I was drawing a problem! (??)


Monday 15 April 2013

...FOR SALE - Original Art - Prints - Greetings Cards...

You know how it is when you get a new toy - or even an old toy - that does things you didn't expect it to. You wanna keep playing with it.

When I finally got the hang of my old quarkxpress 4 - it didn't help trying to learn desktop publishing on a pc at the local library when you've got an imac all quarked up at home - anyway, I finally got the hang of it (still learning) - and began to turn my original artwork into 'fen&ink' greetings cards.


I didn't want the cards to be just a reproduction of the artwork. As good as it may or may not have been. 
I wanted to include a logo of some description, a micro biography, a detail of the artwork in production, and a topical or historical or even personal text piece relevant to artwork or subject therein - a complete and entertaining package as it were. 
Granted it takes a lot longer design wise, but leads to a far more interesting and attractive product I think.

BMW R750 - Chinese Replica

If the information that I feel is required isn't readily available, I'll simply go to that font of all knowledge - google - and source the appropriate history/profile that way. Interestingly, you often come away with something you hadn't bargained for. 
While researching the BMW R750 I discovered that the Russian held German production blueprints for the WWII motorbike were traded to the Chinese for apples and eggs!


When I've drawn a commission of a cat or dog, with the owner's permission to reproduce the image, I'll ask them to provide their pets story. Most of the cats I've drawn have been stray or homeless at one time or another in their lives, before finally finding a place to call home.

That's Ollie...

These cat images, poems and stories became the basis of the Cat Tales 2013 calendar. The calendar was raised £25 for local cat organisations - Stowbridge Cats Protection and Brambles Sanctuary. 
Many thanks to local veterinary practises 'The Crossings' and 'The Hollies' for all their support assisting with sales.

While we are well into the not so new year - halfway through April already -  the Cat Tales 2013 Calendar is still available to buy from the Gift Shop at my website.  
Great pictures and heartwarming stories - a must for any cat lover! the Guildhall and back again, and again...

...the selection process...

What a surprise - having received no emails or real mails regarding whether my work had been accepted into the Cambridge Drawing Society exhibition, and thereby into the society itself, I rechecked my info and it said quite clearly - mind you I don't always read everything  clearly - it said quite clearly that 'successful candidates would be notified by email or paper mail' - well by 1pm I'd pretty much assumed that I had not been successful and 'no' my work hadn't been accepted into the exhibition. 

'The Stargate' - Watermans Lane, Hilgay - Pen & Ink and Watercolour

What a surprise then having returned from an errand at 1.30 to see a letter addressed to me on the hall shelf which I hadn't noticed before - I quickly opened it and there you are - Salutations from the secretary herself - informing me that I have two pieces of work accepted into the exhibition, and an invitation to join the Society itself.  

Yiayia's House, Cyprus - Pen & Ink and Watercolour

Now to drive back to Cambridge itself, via the Isle of Eels (Ely, naturally - I still need layout paper from Tindalls Artshop), to collect the two pieces of work not selected for inclusion.

Byfords Delicatessen, Holt - Pen & Ink
Of the four pieces submitted the larger works - 'Byfords Delicatessen', and 'Reeds 100 Year Department Store' were selected to appear in the exhibition...hope you like 'em.

Reeds 100 Year Department Store, Downham Market - Pen & Ink

Please go to Cambridge Drawing Society for information about the society and what it gets up to. 
Please go to to see images of members artwork. 

  Both well worth the visit! 

Wednesday 10 April 2013

...the Cambridge Drawing Society - Spring Exhibition...

Yesterday I submitted four pieces of work to be considered for membership in the Cambridge Drawing Society, and if approved be entered into the Spring Exhibition at the Cambridge Guildhall. 
If you happen to be in the area it is well worth the visit. Having viewed examples of last year's exhibition online the standard is tremendous and definitely not just drawing...

Monday 1 April 2013

...the last working windmill in norfolk...

Denver Mill - Pen & Ink and wash

As April looms large with the advent of Spring, new tenants have recently taken over the management of Denver's much-loved working wonder on Sluice Road. 
Let's wish the new management team the best of luck in steering Denver Mill back to it's former glory.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

...should I stay or should I go...?

Wow - I thought getting up at 8am to get a space opposite Downham Market Railway Station to draw the station was good timing - boy was I wrong! 
I returned the next day at 6am! Pitch black, parked directly opposite and promptly slept for two hours. I awoke at 8am ready and raring to go - well, not quite. Bought a hot coffee from the cafe returned to the car and drawing board balanced on the steering wheel - began drawing. 
After a few hours of diligent drawing, it did not seem to be going as well as I'd hoped - my  station appeared to have a life and proportions of it's own, but of course I carried on with it anyway...

...Downham Market's Award-Winning Railway Station - Pen & Ink and hot wake you up Coffee!

When I returned to the studio to complete the work from photo reference I could see that I had exaggerated certain architectural features and not other's. My first instinct then was to correct it, but quickly thought to go with it - it did after all have a certain became a very popular pen & ink rendition of the station. 
As it happens, several months later while exhibiting it in the Downham Market May Festival exhibition, the picture was purchased by Andrew Archibald, the chap who had been responsible for the Award-Winning conversion of Downham's station as featured in the TV series by Michael Portillo.

Downham's Award-Winning Railway Station - Pen & Ink, hot steaming tea and watercolour!

He subsequently commissioned me to draw the station's King's Cross platform and also the olde Signal Box - Andrew, not Michael Portillo.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

...Fascinating Fenn...

...Ratter Extraordinaire at large!...

'Pepsi' - Pen & Ink

I just love this drawing.  

My son Laz and I belong to the King's Lynn St Michael's Rifle and Pistol Club - more likely Laz is a fully functioning member, and I tag along as the responsible adult that I am.  
Fellow member, all round nice guy and mentor in the ways of target shooting - Roger Hack, having learnt that I drew pictures and not pistols for a living, asked if I would produce a drawing of his dog 'Pepsi'. 
Roger explained that 'Pepsi' had recently passed away, but what a great companion she had been! 
Pepsi had been the runt of the litter - naturally Roger took her home.

The smallest dog with out-turned 'gotty' legs grew into a Ratter Extraordinaire! Stalking the sugar beet fields to the rear of the garden and generally keeping sway over the considerable rat population without batting a furry eyelid. 
In later years the rats enjoyed a reprieve of sorts while Pepsi favoured her spot beneath the garden's sun-dappled apple tree, keeping a watchful eye on the comings and going of the local cat population. 
I do seem to be more of a cat drawing person, but what a pleasure it was drawing 'Pepsi'! 
Many thanks Roger for the opportunity to draw a great commission.

A page from the fabulous Dandy comic strip 'Black Bob' drawn by Jack Prout.

The nature of this commission and the style of the finished artwork couldn't help but remind of a the old Dandy comic strip 'Black Bob' which featured the ongoing adventures of sheep dog Bob, drawn by the inimitable Jack Prout. 
Wow, it appears that this guy could draw anything - great stuff!

...2014 here we come!...

Plans are now underway, and have been for a few months truth be told, for next years Downham Market 2014 Calendar. 
Several drawings and illustrations are already in place - more than likely I'll put it to the public vote which Downham shops or buildings to include.

Denver Post Office and Stores - Pen & Ink

We'll arrange for the voting to take place - either with me on the market, in selected stores, or online via email or blog - in such a way that we can collect contact details which can then be entered into a draw - no pun intended - and the winners to be drawn from a hat/bowl/box with prizes of original artwork, commissions, card collections and signed prints in the offing! 
Let's have some fun with it.

Our Lady of the Mount - Pen & Ink and Watercolour.

Also the idea of extending the calendar to accommodate Kings Lynn has been percolating in my head for a few weeks which would allow greater scope for illustration and a broader window for sales - which should result in greater charity money raised. 
As decisions are made and plans crystallized I'll let you know what we're up to and how to vote.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

...£175.00 raised for charities...

I must say, a few months after the act as it were - of selling calendars that is - I've thrown in the proverbial towel and totted up the monies raised for charity. 
I figure now is a good time, not premature or anything, because it's fair to say that if you haven't bought a Downham Market 2013 Calendar by now, you've probably got one, got two, or don't want one.  
The grand total of £175.00 has been raised and will be shared equally amongst the five chosen charities at £35.00 each - not loads of money now that the maths has been done, but as that well known TV advert says - 'Every little bit helps!'  
A big thank you to all of you who have supported me and the charities by virtue of buying one two three or four calendars - keeping them or sending them every which way north south east and where ever you fancy! 
Next year's calendar is underway and the best is yet to come - or as good as anyway!


Friday 1 March 2013 Russia and Singapore and New Zealand and Australia with love...

As I turned my own Downham Market Calendar over from the last day of cold February - already?! - to the first day of March, I couldn't help but think of all the echoes of that action, as those four hundred or so recipients of the calendar either from friends and family, or themselves - turned over one page to another to welcome the month of March into the New Year. 
...with the pictorial help of Downham Market's station platform heading to Kings Lynn, London and all imaginable points beyond... 

Downham's platform leading to King's Lynn, King's Cross, Infinity and beyond...

It was illuminating to hear, selling in November directly as I was on the town square - clad in multi layers and on one occasion even a hot water bottle - I was Huge! - that I was kindly informed by each buyer in turn that this particular calendar was being sent to Australia or Paris, or this calendar to Germany or Singapore...
 ...or Holland, Sicily, Yorkshire, Ireland, Lincolnshire, Canada, Surrey, Thailand...  
you know geography has never been my strong point - where is Ostend? - and I can't remember all the close to home and far and away places the calendar arrived at, but even this side of New Year's Eve people approach me in the market square on Friday's, or any day in town and tell me their calendar went to this or that relative here or there. 
I hope March proves to be less blurry than this date and text page - oops.

One lady told me she'd often sent gifts and such to her son abroad but had never received a response, on this occasion he telephoned her to thank her for the calendar. 
Perhaps the strangest and mosunexpected of destinations that I've almost forgotten is when a chap made a beeline for me on the market square - weaving around the plant man's patch and the Eggman (we have no names on the market, only the most obvious of labels) - stopped momentarily at my stall and informed me that he had sent a calendar to his brother in - of all places - Botswana! 
Last week he mentioned that his brother was coming over soon and that as the artist of his calendar - he would introduce me to him. 
As it happens I'm not on the town square today...but what a lovely compliment.

Au revoir to February's irrepressible Ali Dent's Butchers! Hilgay's finest!

It's fair to say that Downham Market's 2013 calendar as well as being a collection of hand drawn local scenes, is also a pictorial reminder of distant friends and family, a nostalgic trip down memory lane, and perhaps most warmly - for those far and worldwide - a glimpse of home.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

...The Nefarious Neal Adams...!

Just to say this post is a 'blog in progress', since I couldn't wait to get it online, but knew that I needed more time to do it justice. 
So hope you enjoy what you see, and please come back for more...

I'm sitting at my mac in my Norfolk studio - feeling somewhat heady - 40 hours or so after having met the man whose dynamic photo realistic artwork over four decades earlier had blasted the 1969 version of the X- Men into the stratosphere and revolutionized the comic book industry forever. 

I'd seen his work before over at DC Comics (home of Superman and Batman). Although I began reading through brother Lol's stack of DC's - which I thoroughly enjoyed (anyone remember 'Robin Dies at Dawn' or Superman Red and Superman Blue?), I had only to read one or two of the early Fantastic Four and Avengers stashed away to become a devout Marvel Comics fan. 
My twelve year old self had seen his work there and didn't care for it much - and when I opened X-Men 56 the first thought that entered my mind was - and I wasn't pleased about it - 'Oh No, it's that bloke from DC Comics!' 
It didn't take me long to come around. Neal was obviously a force to be reckoned with, and one concerned reader wrote in to the letters page and asked Stan Lee whether he'd swapped Silver Surfer artist supreme - Big John Buscema - for Adams. 
Lee was mortified, not only was Buscema chained to his drawing board, but Adams was now on board the Marvel Bullpen express. 
The floor creaked under the weight of his creative innovation.

Gulp! The Nefarious Neal Adams signing my copy of 'Batman Odyssey'!

'Don't I know you guys?' Neal and Lazarus - what a picture!


Our man in Hilgay - from superfoods to superheroes...

Many thanks to Ian Pinches - our man at Downham Market station's Railway Arms. 
Not only for taking on and promoting my Downham Market 2013 calendar, but also for recommending I contact David Learner at King's Lynn Magazine for possible media support. 

Downham Markets award-winning Railway Station houses the award-winning Railway Bar!

A few days later I telephoned David who kindly listened to my calendar pitch, but responded with a 'probably not' owing to the mag being Kings Lynn based and the calendar's theme being strictly Downham Market. Having viewed and been impressed by my work on my website, David generously offered to put my name in the proverbial hat to be possibly featured in a future edition of the King's Lynn Magazine! 
How would I like them apples? Very much, thanks. 
I received an email  from David saying that I had been selected to have a feature appear in the magazine. What followed was a most enjoyable December meeting with both David and Photographer Holly Milston - more like a casual conversation with tea and carrot cake, about comics, catering and even my Dad's Criterion Cafe for good measure!

Hat's off to both David and Holly for a great article, design and photography - and yes, I think that is my best side...

 ... I particularly liked the way David drew a strong comparison between my two vocations as restaurateur and artist, and also the difference between my fine line and watercolour illustration work and my bold energetic comic artwork.   
Very well done!
Hell, I was so impressed by the article that I would buy a commision and/or print from myself! 
KL Magazine is available at no charge from select local outlets and can also be viewed by clicking the images for a larger version, or online here in the February mag, page 84. It's an excellent magazine - well written and very well designed - well worth the read. 

Thanks again to Ian - and David and Holly - I've always got carrot cake...

Tuesday 26 February 2013

...St Peter's Barn - snow stopped (and started) play...

This January I had been asked to draw St Peters Barn in St Germans, and arranged to take reference photographs in a day or so. It was clear that I would be unable to set up an opposite as is my normal practice, owing to the cold weather. 
If I'm out on location in the winter I generally wear up to at least three layers. When I'm working on the Downham Market square - I can easily give the Michelin Man a run - or more like a steady jog - for his money when I'm all togged up.
With the unexpected arrival of a healthy snow drift I was unable to take photos for anything other than a festive winter's scene. 
Hmm, not the clients brief - nice idea though. 

Work in progress - pencil and ink.

If I recall correctly the snow settled for about two weeks or so, which is how long that particular meteorological spanner was in the works. The snows cleared virtually overnight with the advent of a deluge like rainstorm - much to the disappointment of the county's schoolchildren who'd managed via high weather alerts to get the occasional day off from school. 
I recall when eight year's old, walking with my sisters through the snow up hill and down dale (ok - alleyway), to St Peter's Primary School in Surrey, only to congregate in the assembly hall/vestibule and after due diligence by those in authority, to be sent home early. 
Oh the joy was almost palpable!  
In the 1960's not much would stop you going to school... 
My happiness was redoubled that Tuesday morning when finally arriving home - snowballs having been thrown and snowmen made on the way - that I discovered that week's TV21 Comic had been delivered.  

Prophetic headline from mid 1960s

Back in the 21st century - just so you know - I did manage to visit St Peter's Barn and take plenty of reference shots. I also got a general feel of the place while I was there - I always find I can make a greater connection with a subject when I'm sitting in front of it - a communion of sorts that is absent when working just from photographs. 
Still, as the drawing progressed over a couple of weeks there was certainly no spirit or character missing from the drawing as it approached it's conclusion. 
A winter's scene - St Peter's Barn, St Germans near Kings Lynn.

Unlike 'Border House' where I recreated a summer scene, we decided  to keep St Peter's Barn as an winter scenario with autumnal trees and shrubs. I feel the finished commission acquired an almost 1970's architectural and rustic feel to it. 
As is invariably the case I had no idea how the drawing was going to turn out, and am very pleased with the result. 
What do you think?